Seven each day: Mexican women murders on the rise amid drug wars

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than seven women are killed on average every day in Mexico, with numbers surging in recent years amidst the country’s brutal drug wars, a report by the Mexican government and United Nations said.

A third of more than 50,000 murders of women in the past three decades have occurred in the last six years, said a report by Mexico’s interior ministry, the National Institute for Women and U.N. Women.

More women have become victims of drug wars - caught up in turf wars between drug cartels and an army-led offensive against drug gangs launched in 2006 by then-president Felipe Calderon.

Rising numbers of women murdered outside the home, often gunned down in streets, parks and near places of work, is in part “related to the increase in the activities of organized crime,” said the report published on Wednesday.

The overall number of women killed in Mexico rose to 2,746 in 2016 up from 1,089 in 2007.

Femicides, defined in the report as killings of women by their intimate partners, is carried out by “the most cruel means”, included stabbing, strangulation and suffocation.

“A constant of these murders is the brutality and impunity that accompany them,” the report said.

“.. there hasn’t been success in changing the cultural patterns that devalue women and consider them disposable, allowing for a social permissiveness in the face of violence and its ultimate expression: femicide,” the report said.

Mexico and 16 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have introduced new laws in recent years that make femicide - the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender - a specific crime with tougher sentences.

But few crimes against women in Mexico are punished because of poor criminal investigations and sexist social attitudes that view women as inferior to men, the report said.